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There's a Seat for Everybody at This Table

Alternative diet dishes for Thanksgiving

By Margaret Shugart, Fri., Nov. 22, 2013

There's a Seat for Everybody at This Table

This is the first year I have been excited about eating Thanks­giv­ing dinner since I was a child. For most of my adult life, I have either been vegetarian, gluten-free, or both, so outside of potatoes with no gravy, there was little that appealed to me about the holiday meal. I gave up being a vegetarian to participate more fully in social dining experiences, but giving up gluten-free wasn't an option. That meant no turkey cooked with stuffing, no pie, no angel biscuits, and none of that famous green bean casserole made with mushroom soup (thickened with wheat) and topped with those crunchy little onion rings. This year, though, a matriarch in our family was diagnosed with celiac disease and we are getting together for an all-gluten-free dinner. I am already collecting recipes and salivating.

Chances are you are going to have someone with a special diet at your Thanksgiving meal this year, some by choice and some by necessity. Regardless, they will appreciate having options outside of just potatoes or just meat. Some adaptations are easier than others. Turkey, for example, is often gluten-free all on its own, as long as it isn't stuffed with bread. Gravy can be made gluten-free by building a roux with equal parts sweet rice flour and water, or from a slurry of equal parts cornstarch and water, slowly added to your stock. Other pieces of the meal are more challenging, like finding a good bread-free stuffing replacement or a pie recipe that appeals to the paleo crowd (and is, by default, vegan and gluten-free). And what do you do for your vegan main meal that doesn't involve unwrapping synthetic Tofurkey?

For this year's Thanksgiving edition, Chronicle contributing food writers Melanie Haupt, Rachel Feit, Jessi Cape, Mick Vann, Amy Kritzer, and MM Pack joined me in sharing ideas for ways to satisfy your vegan, paleo, dairy-free, and gluten-free guests. Descrip­tions for each dish are below with recipes, wine pairing suggestions by our wine columnist Wes Marshall, and a Thanksgivukah sidebar with ideas for combining the flavors of Thanksgiving and Chanukah. Happy gratitude and dining, for everyone!

The Menu

Mayan Hummus (Sikil P'aak)

Brown Rice & Pumpkin Seed Stuffing

Raw Cranberry Relish

Dixie Tofu-Pecan Loaf

Caramelized Onion Gravy

Garlic Cauliflower "Mashed Potatoes"

Delicata Boats With Red Rice Stuffing*

Turkey Meatballs in Green Curry Broth*

Red Wine Glazed Onions*

Everyday Paleo Pumpkin Pie

Pavlova Cake*

Strawberry Cake*

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